A member of the cyber-crime group Lapsus$ was caught “red handed” after City of London Police searched his hotel room and found a Amazon Fire Stick that granted him access to the internet. As reported by GamesRadar (from an original story by the BBC), Arion Kurtaj, an 18-year-old hacker from Oxford, was a member of the group responsible for a hacking spree against high-profile tech firms.
Chief among which was Rockstar – which resulted in the widespread leak of 90 photos and videos from an early build of GTA 6 ending up online. It is believed Kurtaj shared the material from inside a Travelodge hotel – while on bail for hacking. Kurtaj was under protective custody inside the hotel after a rival hacker group shared personal information connected to his family.
The incident against Rockstar was deemed as his “most audacious” crime. Kurtaj posted a message to Rockstar’s Slack message board, explaining that he was not “a Rockstar employee” but instead “an attacker.”
He informed the company that he had downloaded valuable assets associated with GTA 6 and warned “if Rockstar does not contact me on Telegram within 24 hours I will start releasing the source code.”
Kurtaj has been remanded in custody, while an unnamed 17-year-old defendant has been bailed. The two are believed to have met online and begun hacking in July 2021, attacking tech companies including BT and EE, demanding a ransom fee of $4m (£3.1m). No ransom was paid. In another hacking spree, Lapsus$ illegally obtained sensitive data from Nvidia.
The lead barrister in the prosecution, Kevin Barry, said Kurtaj and those within the group continually demonstrated a “juvenile desire to stick two fingers” against their victims, and illustrated how “easy it was for its members” to access high-profile organisations.
Kurtaj and the 17-year-old are due to be sentenced at a later date.